While the cable industry hasn’t fessed up to how much it makes leasing set-top boxes to their customers, in July, lawmakers crunched some numbers and found that it could be a $20 billion industry, with consumers paying up to $232 every year on that equipment. Two advocacy groups are now asking the Federal Communications Commission to begin a rulemaking proceeding to reform the video set-top box market, saying cable and pay-TV companies are overcharging consumers by $6 billion to $14 billion annually. [More]
There’s a rumble brewing in telecom town: Sling TV is accusing Comcast of keeping its ads off some NBC stations’ airwaves. Which is exactly what the big bad cable company in its recent marketing campaign would do, Dish Network-owned Sling says.
One might think that a company making upwards of $134 billion in a year would pay its lawyers to read everything that comes their way very closely. And yet somehow, AT&T’s legal counsel missed information in legal documents that could put the company on the hook for $40 million in a patent-infringement case.
Back in December, a U.S. Appeals court gave the thumbs-up to telecommunications companies working with the National Security Agency to monitor phones and email. Phone companies are also apparently totally cool with selling access to your phone activities to other law enforcement agencies willing to fork over pre-set prices.
The option to port your existing cellphone number over to Google Voice is now live and direct, baby.
Looks like soon Google Voice will let you port your own phone number over to their service for $20.
It could be the end of the line for your favorite doorstop: Verizon, the dominant phone company in New York, is asking to stop automatic delivery of the residential White Pages to doorsteps across the state later this year.
In August, we wrote about upcoming investigations and possible actions by the FCC on several different areas of the consumer telecommunications experience. Several consumer groups filed comments on the first issue, truth in billing, this week, and we wanted to share some of their concerns and suggestions.
Annoyed by cell phone exclusivity deals? The federal government may agree with you. The FCC and Department of Justice are both looking into the issue, concerned about limitations on consumer choice and good old-fashioned competition.
Tamera accidentally paid her $134.61 Cox Cable bill twice, but instead of refunding or acknowledging the overpayment, Cox thought it would be fun to send Tamera an extra bill for $269. If she’s lucky, Cox says they’ll consider waiving their late fee.
Vonage charged J.R. $38.94 for a three-hour call transferred from Texas to Los Angeles because Vonage apparently thinks L.A. is somewhere in Algeria. After some digging, J.R. learned that if you transfer a call without adding +1 to the number, Vonage will mistake area codes for country codes and bill at the international rate, even though the calls are domestic.
Comcast keeps sending Andrew’s parents letters insisting that “there is a leak of our electronic signal into the air,” and that if it can’t be immediately fixed, their service will be disconnected. Andrew’s parents always immediately call Comcast to schedule a service visit, because nobody wants a signal leaking into the air, especially not one that “could interfere with aircraft and ship communications,” but each time they call, Comcast has no clue why they sent a letter, or how to plug the leaky plane-gobbling signal.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is calling it quits as of inauguration day. The Chairman, who could have served for three more years, is heading to the Aspen Institute, a preserve for endangered spectacles masquerading as a “nonprofit leadership group.” Martin’s tenure was a mixed bag for consumers…
The Senate passed the FISA bill today, which effectively puts an end to any chance of legal repercussions for telcos who helped the government spy on citizens. Senator Obama voted for it, Senator McCain didn’t vote, and Senator Clinton, for what it’s worth, voted against it. Find out how your senator voted here. [TechCrunch]
Few consumers realize they can ditch their monopolistic service providers in favor of local, independent telecoms that often offer similar services at competitive rates. These smaller outfits depend on service, not size, as reader Sharpstick recently discovered:
In the Charleston SC area we are fortunate to have local a internet / phone / cable provider called Knology that has made customer service an art form.
You know telecoms are behaving badly when a business columnist who just a year ago argued for a hands-off government approach has reversed his opinion. “I’ve changed my mind,” he writes. “The behavior of the top telecommunications companies, especially Verizon Communications and AT&T, has convinced me that more government involvement is needed to keep communications free of corporate interference.”
Microsoft has said it will not participate in the upcoming wireless spectrum auction, because it wouldn’t help their business model, which is to create and sell software to handset makers. [Reuters]